Pregnant Friends…

A very special friend who is instrumental in helping me through my grief sent me a message regarding one of my recent blogs… ‘Hiding my pain in their joy’ regarding a friend who has recently announced that she is pregnant. My friend wrote…

In the ideal world:

x would be able to hold both her joy and anticipation, along with her sorrow and compassion for you.
You would be able to hold your grief and envy, along with your joy and pleasure for x.
And all would be openly felt in turn and turn around, and you could speak freely about all perspectives and honour each of them.  You’d laugh and cry together, and feel compassion for the other and their difference.
And your friendship would continue, knowing that Life deals unequal hands.    And things happen in the future that we cannot foresee, and you may end up feeling the blessed one.
See also sent me this

Anthony de Mello, SJ: Equanimity

“There is a Chinese story of an old farmer who had an old horse for tilling his fields. One day the horse escaped into the hills and when all the farmer’s neighbours sympathised with the old man over his bad luck, the farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

A week later and the horse returned with a herd of wild horses from the hills and this time the neighbours congratulated the farmer on his good luck. His reply was, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

Then, when the farmer’s son was attempting to tame one of the wild horses, he fell off and broke his leg. Everyone thought this very bad luck. Not the farmer, whose only reaction was, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

Some weeks later the army marched into the village and conscripted every able-bodied youth they found there. When they saw the farmer’s son they let him off. Now was that good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

Extract from Anthony de Mello: Writings Selected with an Introduction by William Dych, S.J pp 42-3, Orbis Books, New York 2002

For anyone who is struggling with the pain of having to watch family members or friends have the life that we longed for I hope that this helps.

One step closer to my plan B

After receiving the exciting news that I will be photographing Terry McMillan early next year as Women Talk’s official event photographer I was also honoured to be told that Women Talk are going to back my book and would like to get the book published to be launched for International Women’s day March 2016, Ahhhhhh!!!!. So I am reaching out for your help.

For those of you who do not know I have been attending the Gateway Women plan B mentorship program which has been instrumental in helping me to deal with my grief in more ways than I could have hoped for. One of the daunting aspects for many women coming to terms with living without children is not knowing where we fit in, along with the prospect of growing old without having anyone to look after us. I found myself lost, wandering what am I supposed to do now???  As part of the mentorship program we are supporting each other in finding and working towards our plan Bs.

As a photographer, with a full time job in the NHS, my plan B is to publish a book telling our stories, detailing how difficult it is to be here with the realisation that we will not become, natural, mothers and will not have families of our own. I want people on the outside to understand our experiences on this journey and to understand that we are not looking for them to ‘fix’ us with their solutions of adoption and IVF. So I need your help. I am looking for women who would like to share their stories, the tears and the joys of your experiences on this roller-coaster ride. Names will be changed to keep your anonymity.

I’d like to start by asking 2 questions;

1. How was it for you when you realised  you definitely would’t be having children?’ 

2. what would you love (or would have loved) to hear from family/ friends when you shared that you could not have children? and if you’ve not shared what would you want to hear?

I would also love to hear from your partners too if they’d be happy to be a part of this project.

Here are some pictures I’ve started taking for my book. It would be great to have some feedback.

finding my plan B

living without children
living without children

finding my plan B

At the park where she grew up playing and planned to take her own children

finding my plan B finding my plan B

From my 3 years of trying to conceive

finding my plan B

The jewellery I would have given to my daughter 

finding my plan B

The top tier of our wedding cake, frozen for the christening of our first child

finding my plan B

Saying goodbye

I would like to use extracts of your stories with the images and would love to hear more ideas of pictures that I could take.

I am looking forward to hearing from you


Hiding my pain in their joy…

A friend of mine who has been on her own journey to becoming a mother told me recently that she is pregnant and I was unable to identify with how I felt. I found it difficult to move past the words “I am pregnant”. I have been on this journey with her listening to her stories sharing her pain, which I now realise was the easy part because I was sharing that pain (my pain) too. Now that she has found her joy I feel like I have been left behind unsure of what this means for me or our friendship. As much as I am glad that she has finally got what she desired I find it hard to truly share her joy because it reminds me of my grief.
I remember when another friend announced that she was pregnant  with her second child and the anguish of trying to conceive for 7 months. Unknown to her I was undergoing fertility testing at the time, after trying for 3 years to conceive my own child. I sat there and listened with anger in my heart… 7 months…. try 3 years of planning, calculated liaison with my husband and lying with my legs in the air for 30 minutes afterwards praying that this time it worked then feeling depressed when that time of the month came that announced that it wasn’t to be.
I was grateful that I had the support from Gateway Women as it helped me to realise that this was her grief at not being able to conceive her second child, something I would not have considered before.
Now I sit here selfishly wandering if our friendship will survive. The expectation of new life brings so much joy but I find it hard to share in that joy right now. I am in a place where I am scared that I am losing my friends who have young families and lives that I have very little in common with. I am trying to find my place in this world trying not to feel so alone in my grief and trying not to isolate myself from a world that I find difficult to fit into whilst trying to make sense of my grief so that I can make peace with it, wondering when will this pain end.
I have since been reminded me that my friend is not having my baby and was asked what I would want from me if I was her. This has helped me to reflect on all the emotions that she must be feeling which is really helping me to be able to be there for her at this time.

I would love to hear your stories of surviving the friendships and how you coped with their joy in your pain. What were your fears and how did you overcome them? I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Gifts of Grief

Jody Day shared this poem with our GW group which I thought I’d share with you as the words and sentiment touched my heart.  Whilst working through my grief I am learning to come to terms with my past decisions. I am slowly accepting the loss of not having my own children and know that one day soon I will be able to stand up and confidently say that I no longer regret my childlessness

gifts of grief by jody day

It would be great to hear your experiences too, experiences that I would love to share in my book.

A landmark event in women’s history this weekend

This weekend, Friday 9th and Saturday 10th October is a very important one in women’s history – the world’s very first conference for childless and childfree women, The NotMom Summit is taking place in Cleveland, USA. Organised by Karen Malone Wright, the Founder of the US-based website for childless and childfree women,

Why does society always have to fix us???

I saw on the news recently that a woman in Sweden  has become the first in the world to have a baby after having a womb transplant – and now  doctors have been granted approval to carry out the UK’s first womb transplants. When I first heard this, I wasn’t even sure that I had heard it correctly, I really didn’t know how I felt  so I shared it with my husband and GW sisters.

My husband jokingly made up a headline: ‘You can now have a child without the pains of being pregnant’. I also heard: ‘it could completely remove the unconscious relationship between mother and child that begins in the womb and which is a vital part of being human’; that it also perpetuates the idea of: ‘a child at all costs’.  I feel that this is another example of the lack of acceptance faced by women who are living without children.

One of my difficulties with dealing with my childlessness is that when I am brave enough to share my circumstances I am asked if I have thought about IVF or adoption  – as if that’s something I’ve not already thought about or, even worse, as if it is going to instantly solve my ‘problem’. At one point I started to feel guilty about past decisions and that I didn’t try hard enough to have a child with my husband as I wasn’t interested in  these ‘solutions’. I wondered if maybe I really didn’t want to have a child enough in the first place. I started to see the uncomfortable truth that people found it hard not to try and fix my situation, that they found it difficult just to empathise with me. The reality is I am grieving and wanted to understand what childlessness meant for me, my marriage and my future. Until I understood, accepted and dealt with the grief, which is harder than I could ever have imagined, why would I want to bring an adopted child into my world, someone with a bag of other stuff that I may not be able to deal with anyway. So please do not try and fix me. All I need is a smile, a hug or an acknowledgement that I am here…

It would be great to hear your views and experiences too.

How do you stop the war???

My day ended on a note of grief. I struggled to contain my emotions when managing the “pregnant princess” at work. We have hit a new level in this battle that is quickly becoming a war of wits, trying to see who will come out the victor.

Why does it have to be this way? Why declare war? After talking with my GW circle I am beginning to see where my fear might be coming from. But it is so hard to shift from my concern that she could be using her pregnancy as a weapon (I realise that this is a strong choice of words from me here) to get what she wants and I resent that. I am genuinely pleased she is having the baby she so wanted so badly, but I am not happy about the dynamics that seem to be coming with it and effecting us all at work.

So the battle begins…. she doesn’t seem to be honest about what is really going on, which I think is that she is not pulling her weight on the team. If we give in, that means she is not playing fair. But who really wins and who really loses and why is this the only choice? All I know right now as I try and figure out what this means for me, is that I am finding it hard to stop listening to my internal gremlins and find a safe way through this that means we both win.